Russia’s elites are divided over Putin’s genocidal war in Ukraine. Inside Russia, Putin is indisputably number one. But the longer the bloody murder of fellow Slavs continues, the more tenuous Putin’s grip becomes.
For over 20 years, Putin has been the one constant factor that defines the Russian power elite. But he can do nothing on his own. His orders must be transmitted through the labyrinthine levels of power by the Siloviki security elite, who control the vast military, financial, and intelligence networks of Russia.
They are the siloviki, Russian for “men of force” — the men at the heart of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Fiercely loyal to the Kremlin line, they are Mr Putin’s most trusted advisers. Many have a background in national security organisations such as the FSB, the successor to the Soviet Union’s infamous KGB.
Russia watchers strongly believe that should Mr Putin ever hand over power, his successor will probably be from their number.Meet the Siloviki
An army of former KGB officers who became rich and powerful under Putin.
More on Siloviki and rumors of mutiny.
Next is the army of billionaire oligarchs, who run Russia’s industrial/commercial infrastructure, energy companies, and vast natural resource extraction. Author Catherine Belton’s bestseller “Putin’s People” provides detailed histories of the rise of the various factions of oligarchs, including the former KGB who rose with Putin.
Putin’s People Is the Book the Russian Government Wishes You Not to Read
Most of Russia’s billionaire oligarchs may be cowards at heart, but if they felt they had a good chance as a group to send Putin to the nether regions, they might feel emboldened — especially if some of the siloviki offered their backing and a feasible succession plan.
Putin’s personal bodyguards are another essential component of the insider contingent. Putin has been particularly close to his bodyguards since the runup to the second Chechen war.
The Federal Protection Service (FSO) is the agency responsible for protecting the president of Russia.
The roots of the FSO go back to one of the directorates of the KGB – the Soviet-era state agency with very extensive powers. This directorate was responsible for the safety of top officials, just as the FSO is now. There are many legends about their mission to protect “body number one.” For 15 years, rumors have circulated that FSO officers use a presidential body double for Putin’s riskiest performances – like submersible dives to the bottom of Lake Baikal or flying a fighter jet.
Putin has recently fired a number of top Kremlin generals and sidelined a number of intelligence directors over the poor performance of Russian forces in Ukraine. Farther in the past, he has caused the deaths and removal of a number of oligarchs. Putin has never left any doubt that he is the top bandit in the gang of thieves. Any members of the elite who try to say otherwise are not long for the world.
The Russian National Guard is another important piece of the puzzle. The Guard is Putin’s private military force, placed under the control of a long-time Putin bodyguard Viktor Zolotov.
… the National Guard is protected by the might of the Kremlin. The force’s immunity from criticism, together with its newly-expanded roles in the Arctic and cyber, suggest its growing strategic importance in Putin’s regime. Continued evolution of the National Guard’s mission beyond original expectations is probable as Putin solidifies its capabilities and domestic strength. The Guard’s growth in power will likely offer Putin an effective instrument in carrying out bold policies at home and abroad.Russian National Guard
One would be a fool to believe that Putin did not have some other aces up his sleeve, out of a combination of personal paranoia and KGB standard operations. There is no other human in the world that is more detested at this time than Vladimir “the impaler” Putin.
Final Word: Read Putin’s People by Catherine Belton
If you want to know the details about the rise of Putin, you need to understand the army of thugs and criminals that grew up out of the former USSR alongside of Putin from his early days. The most detailed account can be found in Catherine Belton’s bestselling book linked above.
Without a political network of his own, Putin surrounded himself with those he most felt he could trust in order to implement his vision of the “power vertical” — the hierarchical structure that would impose the Kremlin’s stamp across this vast country.
“He himself brought five people with him, each of these in turn brought five others, and each of these 25 brought still others. There is a snowball effect, and the president no longer controls the process,” Kryshtanovskaya noted.
… Military and intelligence men are particularly concentrated in the higher echelons of power, making up 58 per cent of the total, with the regional elite, federal inspection agencies (30 per cent) and ministries also showing high proportions of “siloviki.”The Dawn of Putin
The Pressure Cooker is On and the Lid is Clamped Tight
Most of Russia’s insider elite has grown accustomed to an easy life where its members can do as they choose almost anywhere in the world, as long as they did not challenge Putin’s final authority. But Putin’s Ukraine miscalculation is bringing repercussions to the Russian economy — and to the insider elite — which they had not been counting on, just weeks ago.
Now the pie is getting smaller, and their own pieces smaller yet. To more and more Russian insiders, Putin is starting to look like a greater liability.
In Ukraine, ordinary Russian soldiers are threatening to come home to Russia and “take Putin out!”
Putin’s troops branded one particular airstrike on a maternity hospital “the most perverse f***ing form of neo-Nazism”.
And soldiers have since warned their warmongering leader he “won’t hide this for long”, adding “we all will be judged”.
One reconnaissance officer, Vladimir, told an international media briefing this week: “I want to tell our commander-in-chief to stop terror acts in Ukraine because when we come back we’ll rise against him.”
Another officer at the same event told Putin: “You won’t hide this for long. There are many like us here. Sooner or later, we’ll come home.”
Russian casualties continue to rise. Putin will not be able to hide the truth from Russia for much longer.
Russian forces face mounting casualties among officers and increasingly frequent desertion and insubordination. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported on March 19 that “some [Russian] naval infantry units” (unspecified which, but likely referring to Eastern Military District units deployed to the fighting around Kyiv) have lost up to 90% of their personnel and cannot generate replacements. The Ukrainian General Staff reported at noon local time on March 20 that Ukrainian forces wounded the commander of the 346th Independent Spetsnaz Brigade and claimed that Ukrainian forces killed the commanders of the 331st VDV Regiment, 247th VDV Regiment, and the 6th Tank Regiment (90th Tank Division, CMD) at unspecified times and locations. The General Staff reported the Russian Black Sea Fleet is replacing 130 insubordinate soldiers in the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade with paratroopers from the 7th Airborne Assault Division – a measure highly likely to cause greater unit cohesion problems. The General Staff additionally reported that Russian forces are increasingly using ”outdated and partially defective equipment” to replace combat losses.
The Ukrainian MoD reported that forced mobilization in the DNR has demoralized Russian proxy forces, with many refusing to fight and accusing Russian leadership of forcing them into combat to find Ukrainian troop positions. The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported the number of insubordinate Russian personnel who are refusing combat orders is “sharply increasing” in the Kherson and Mykolayiv oblasts on March 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported the Russian military commandant office in Belgorod City is investigating 10 Russian servicemen of 138th Motor Rifle Brigade who refused to continue fighting in Kharkiv and agitated for other Russian servicemen to abandon their posts.Understanding War
Deputy Commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet KIA
An increasingly static war environment with massive civilian bombardment by Russian forces
Putin is still popular among a certain class of people inside Russia and around the world, but the actions he has set in motion inside Ukraine have made him the most detested man on the planet. Of all the people in the world that others wish would die, Putin is certainly at the top of the list.
The Russian people have been lied to, abused, imprisoned, and murdered by their governments for so long that they cannot imagine any other way of life. For Russia to survive the next few decades, the current form of government must be modified. It is time for the ghost of the USSR/GRE to be put to rest before it destroys all of humanity.
For as long as it continues to exist as a nation, Russia will have a corrupt criminal government run by thugs. The inertia is too strong. But the worst of the thugs — the ones who worship dead empires and threaten the existence of the entire human future — deserve to fall into oblivion.
Russia’s inability to achieve self-sufficiency
Russia’s dependence on imports actually worsened over the years. In 2021, some 81% of manufacturers said they couldn’t find any Russian versions of imported products they needed. More than half were dissatisfied with the quality of homegrown production. Both figures were the highest recorded since the survey by Russia’s Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy began in 2015.
In 2020, imports accounted for 75% of sales of nonfood consumer goods in the Russian retail market, according to a study by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. In some sectors the share was even higher, rising to 86% for telecommunications equipment, the study found. Imports equaled around a fifth of GDP in 2020, compared with 16% in China and higher than other big economies such as India and Brazil.
Russia’s auto makers have been especially hard-hit by a lack of imported components such as computer chips. On Wednesday, the leader of Russia’s Tatarstan region warned in televised remarks that truck maker Kamaz was facing a production drop of up to 40% and that some 15,000 of its employees could be idled until the company’s supply-chain issues are resolved.
Nuclear proliferation much more likely
Europe’s long delusional fantasy is over
You won’t understand very much of what is going on among top level Russian decision makers today until you read the book below.